Wittman Continues to Fight for Broadband Access at Fredericksburg Chamber Event
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) participated in a community conversation on broadband expansion hosted by the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce. The conversation took place at the Howell Branch of the Central Rappahannock Region Library in Fredericksburg.
“Right now, we are leaving thousands of people on the sidelines, not just in our district, but across the country,” Wittman said. “Significant human capital and economic development suffer without access to high speed internet. For example, our rural hospitals lack access to telehealth services that better equip health care providers and small business growth is stifled without the technology that spurs innovation and job creation. It is estimated that for every percentage point increase in broadband investment, 300,000 new jobs are created. By giving millions more people access to high speed broadband, we can bring the untapped potential of hard working Americans in rural areas off the sidelines and propel our nation forward in the global economy.”
Following keynote remarks by Congressman Wittman, the Chamber moderated a panel discussion featuring the Congressman, Courtney Dozier, Deputy Chief Broadband Advisor for Governor Northam, Adam Jorde, The Rural Broadband Association, and Elizabeth Povar, Principal Officer of the Middle Peninsula Alliance and the PamunkeyNet Project.
“I want to thank the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce for putting this important event together,” Rep. Wittman continued. “We need to continue our coordination and understand how to best help all members of the community.”
Currently almost 50% of rural Virginians lack access to high speed internet and 29% don’t have any internet service at all. At this meeting, Congressman Wittman discussed the unique challenges that are present in the region which hinder access to high speed broadband services. This includes the labyrinth of red tape and regulations, cost of service, and varying geographic obstacles. Congressman Wittman believes that by addressing these issues and engaging federal agencies and other private stakeholders with localities, we can help bridge the digital divide.
“According to the FCC’s 2016 Broadband Progress Report, our region has nearly 20,000 people with no access to broadband, but the internet is a fabric that binds and connects our nation. Nearly half of rural Virginians lack access to high speed internet. In order to attract new businesses to the Fredericksburg Region, increase access and success to education, and improve health care, we need to increase our broadband infrastructure. It is our hope that elevating this critical discussion will bring Virginia and our region into the 21st century,” said Susan Spears, President and CEO of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Congressman Wittman continues to be a leader on promoting access to broadband in rural areas. He has held two meetings of his Broadband Taskforce, where he brought together national, state, and local stakeholders to discuss ways of expanding broadband to unserved areas. In March, Congressman Wittman fought to get more than $685 million in the government funding bill to expand federal support in leveraging private investment for the expansion of rural broadband deployment. This legislation created a new $600 million broadband grant and loan program to be implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.On January 17, 2018 Congressman Wittman sent aletter to the Trump Administration advocating for increasing access to broadband in rural areas and he urged the administration to include policies promoting broadband investments in any upcoming infrastructure package.
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.
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